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500% Increase in Student Mental Illness over Last 70 Years

posted 12:11 AM EST, Tue January 12, 2010
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500% Increase in Student Mental Illness over Last 70 Years © Photo Credit:Bloody Marty Mix

College students in 1938 rarely battled the depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions that their peers from today now struggle with.

Today’s high school and college aged youth are 5 times more likely to struggle with mental illness than youth of the same age from the 1930s.

That’s what San Diego State University researchers are saying after evaluating the data from almost 78 000 students who took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) from 1938 to 2007.

Some statistics which illustrate how students' mental health has changed over the 7 decades include:

  • In 1938, 7% of students scored highly on unrealistic optimism and anxiety (hypomania). That percentage rose to 31% in 2007.
  • In 1938, 1% of students met the criteria for depression, a percentage which rose to 6% on 2007
  • In 1938, 5% of students scored highly on psychopathic deviation (problems with authority and delusions about rules), a percentage which rose to 24% in 2007.

The study’s lead author, Professor Jean Twenge, said "It's another piece of the puzzle - that yes, this does seem to be a problem, that there are more young people who report anxiety and depression. The next question is: what do we do about it?"

The full study results can be read in an upcoming edition of Clinical Psychology Review.http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/652/description

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